Deep Impact successfully deployed its impactor spacecraft early this morning on a one-way trip to destruction by Comet Tempel 1. The flyby spacecraft then burned its engines to take it out of the path of the oncoming comet before turning around and snapped the above image of the impactor spacecraft drifting away as it sparkled in sunlight. The course change will allow Deep Impact to record images of the impact and its aftermath.
Mission controllers confirmed that the both spacecraft are successfully transmitting data. A near real-time viewer has gone up on NASA’s Deep Impact website to display images from the two vessels. Impact should occur tonight at 10:52 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.